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Cellar Selection: 2009 Silverado Vineyards SOLO Cabernet Sauvignon

When I was eight years old, my folks put a bicycle on lay-away for me. Every couple of weeks, we went to the store to make a payment and visit my future bicycle. Anticipation amplified my excitement about owning the shiny yellow bike.

Today, aside from a tiny resurgence due to the recession, lay-away no longer exists. We use credit cards and take things home right away. We want immediate gratification, even if that means higher cost or lower quality. The pleasure of anticipation and working toward something has been replaced by adrenalin shots from impulse buying and the drudgery of working to pay off debt.

Our impatience has also affected wine styles. Not long ago, any top Cabernet Sauvignon had to be bottle-aged to be at its best or, sometimes, to even be drinkable. Now, vines and wines are manipulated for fruitier, softer, ready-to-drink juice. The majority of bottles are opened within 24 hours of purchase. They need to be delicious immediately. Wine aerators are a booming business because people can’t bear to wait a few minutes for sturdier wines to blossom in a decanter.

I’m not old enough to spend my days in a creaky rocking chair on the porch, complaining about “kids these days.” But I sometimes miss the “good old days” of patience and anticipation. I like to cellar wines. I enjoy wines that eschew early-drinkability but develop character, complexity and a smooth palate with years of bottle age. Those are also the wines you want to purchase upon release and hold for future anniversaries or birthdays. When enjoyed several years later, they spark recollections about the vintage and your life back then.

The 2009 Silverado Vineyards SOLO Cabernet is the product of one vineyard, the Silverado Stags Leap Vineyard. Located on and around a hill on the west side of Silverado Trail, it features spectrums of soil types, aspects and Cabernet Sauvignon clones. The variables create blending flexibility, increasing potential quality and complexity. However, the wine is always a story about place and vintage.

2009 rolled out a growing season of up-and-down temperatures, but moderate weather overall. There was much less frost than 2008 and just enough rain, well-timed. Summer temperatures climbed above 100 degrees only one-third as many times as is typical. It was a long season with little drama.

The Silverado Stags Leap grapes were picked at the end of October’s first week, just before things did get “exciting.” Two or three days later the skies opened. That October became the wettest in Napa Valley since 1962. (If you don’t like to talk about the weather, don’t chat with a winegrower. It’s a necessary obsession for them, even in California.)

That long growing season without extremes brought phenolic ripeness to the grapes with relatively low sugars and plenty of acidity. That’s an ideal recipe for wine that will age: very fresh with flavorful fruit and moderate alcohol.

I tasted this wine twice. First, I poured it in a blind flight of North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon, all of which I had quickly double decanted. At the end of the panel tasting, there was about half a bottle of each wine left. I let them sit on the counter for eight hours, then re-tasted them.

A couple of the wines were clearly made for immediate enjoyment. They were showy with jammy fruit and myriad oak-derived flavors. They were tasty right away, but began to fall apart in the glass. They didn’t fare well at all after eight hours of air.

The 2009 Silverado Vineyards SOLO Cabernet Sauvignon was the opposite. It seemed more like a Bordeaux than what we’ve come to expect from contemporary Napa Valley. Briary blackberries just peeked through layers of dry herb and bay leaf, dark spices and a touch of oak. The palate was medium-plus bodied but brisk. Tannins were very fine-grained yet quite firm. We tasters had arrived at 6am for a party not scheduled to begin until 6pm.

So I came back later. After eight hours, the wine had forgiven my premature arrival. It greeted me warmly. The tannins were silky, the freshness gentle and harmonious. The range of flavors remained the same. but they were much friendlier and more expressive. There is a strong core of dark fruit but, overall this an elegant and savory wine that will be perfect with roasted meat and potatoes on a Fall evening. It wants to be cellared, enjoy the anticipation and it will reward your patience. Best 2017 through 2030. Highly Recommended.

solo2009_150dpi2009 Silverado Vineyards SOLO Cabernet Sauvignon
Rating: Highly Recommended
Drink: 2015 - 2030
Release Date: September, 2012
Closure: Cork
Production: 1,480 cases
Retail Price: $100.00

Winemaker: Jon Emmerich
Origin: 100% estate Silverado Stags Leap Vineyard, Stags Leap District AVA
Blend: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Aging: 19 months in French oak, 45% new
Alcohol: 13.9%

Service Recommendations
Decanting: Required now, 6 hours+
Temperature: 58º - 64º F
Food Pairings: Juicy, pan-roasted lamb chops with fingerling potatoes and thyme-butter.

The wine above was provided for review by the winery.

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This article is original to Copyright 2012 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.